Grandpa was a stubborn Norwegian

When Janet gets frustrated with me, she has been known to refer to me as a “stubborn Norwegian.” I admit to being more stubborn than I should be, but I’m a relative puppy-dog compared to Grandpa Louis Loseth.

I mostly remember Grandpa as a quiet man whose most remarkable trait (to me) was the fact that he chewed “snuz” – I think it was the Copenhagen brand. Since Grandma wouldn’t stand for a spittoon in the house, Grandpa would occasionally lift himself creakily from his chair, shuffle over to the wood-burning cook stove, and drizzle a stream of brown stuff into the firebox. This was fascinating to a kid from a tobacco-free house.

Although I never had much chance to observe his stubbornness first-hand, I heard stories, including the one about his fur-selling trip.

Homesteading in the first decades of the 1900s in the Shell Lake area wasn’t easy. Summers were spent clearing brush and picking rocks to create tillable fields. Winter wasn’t a time of leisure, but a time to earn some extra money by logging or trapping.

One year Louis had trapped enough squirrels, muskrats, beavers and weasels, and maybe a mink or two, to result in a respectable-sized bale of cured furs, enough to weigh heavily on his shoulders. However he was tough as nails, so the 5-mile walk from his homestead to the village of Shell Lake didn’t faze him.

When the local store-keeper inspected the furs and offered him far too little money, Louis quietly packed the furs up again and set out walking to the village of Mildred, another 11 or 12 miles down the trail, where he finally agreed to a selling price.

I don’t know if he agreed that it was a fair price, but legend has it that if it wasn’t he’d have been willing to walk to Spiritwood, seven more miles further west, out of principle.

Apparently when he returned home to his family, much later than expected, he was carrying a 100-pound sack of flour on his back (well, maybe it was a 50-pound sack).  Grandma had been worried sick, but he had provided for his family, so he was satisfied with himself.

I appreciate the way that Grandpa modelled perseverance and a strong work ethic for his descendants. However Janet doesn’t appreciate at least one gene that the stubborn old Norwegian passed down to me.


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END NOTE: My apologies to any living relatives if I’ve exaggerated this story – if so, call it artistic license – however I think it’s fairly close to the way I heard it, but you know how family histories can morph over time.

5 Responses to “Grandpa was a stubborn Norwegian”

  1. Roger Loseth says:

    Actually there Phil, dear cousin I heard that story from Grandma and you under exagerated he actually went farther than that. After being offered even less in Mildred he then turned around and walked to Parkside I think Grandma said he got a ride in someones wagon at least part of the way. That guy(fur buyer) offered the same as the dude in Mildred so he walked back to Shell Lake and did indeed sell his furs to Aidlman or Gooden? And yes it was 100lbs of flour on his shoulders for the last five miles home. You are indeed a stubborn Norweigan Phil as we all are thats part of our charm but your brother Marvin is the only one who even comes close. I myself am proud to be called a stubbor Norweigan and when my Dad used to shake his head and say you’re just like your Grandpa I never took it as an insult, I took it as a compliment.

  2. Jennifer says:

    that is insane.

  3. Phil L says:

    Hey Roger, it’s too bad I didn’t think to check with you before posting. I started writing this awhile back, and I had it in my head that he went all the way to Shellbrook. I talked with a couple of brothers and cousins but they had never heard the story and eventually Uncle Stanley told me it was Mildred.

    Oh well, I guess under-statement is OK.

  4. Roger Loseth says:

    I guess I probably spent more time around Grandma and Grandpa Loseth than any of the cousins, and as far as checking with me goes I think Rhonda is the one that remembers more of the tales of Grampas adventures than any of us. But I am so glad you wrote that story cause I like bragging about our Grand dad and remembering all the wild stories your Dad and Uncle Stan and Grama used to tell us younger ones. Thanks Phil.

  5. deb says:

    What a great story! I always felt like I was missing out on life by not growing up on a farm as my dad did and his family before him. All the stories my dad shares are the absolute “coolest”. A few years back, when I was home, Dad showed me a bag of about 20 diaries – from his mother and his grandma. I had to read them, and found them fascinating – again making me feel like I missed out on the trials and tribulations of growing up on a farm in the 1900’s and on. I do feel it makes the family unit stronger than it is today. Oh, you may be a stubborn Norweigan, but I get referred to as a stubborn Englishman/woman.